Compact Nordic-powered module achieves a transmission range of up to 100 meters


The ZSB101A from ZHIYUAN Microelectronics employs Nordic’s nRF52820 SoC to provide Bluetooth LE connectivity over extended distances in space-constrained applications

IoT solutions company Guangzhou ZHIYUAN Microelectronics Co., Ltd. has launched a highly integrated module with a form factor of just 8 by 8 by 1.1 mm. The ‘ZSB101A’ module employs the wafer level chip scale package (WLCSP) version of Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52820 SoC to provide the processing power and Bluetooth® LE connectivity for a wide range of space-constrained applications, including industrial automation, medical devices and sports equipment.

Long range connectivity

In addition to the Nordic SoC, the module also integrates a ceramic chip antenna that helps it achieve a transmission range of more than 100 meters in open spaces according to the company. The nRF52820 SoC’s 2.4 GHz multiprotocol radio features 8 dBm TX power and -95 dBm sensitivity (Bluetooth LE at 1 Mbps) for a link budget of +103 dBm. An external antenna can also be connected to make the design more flexible to address various usage scenarios.

We selected the nRF52820 SoC WLCSP because it allowed us to minimize the footprint of our module without compromising on performance
Sendong Huang, ZHIYUAN Microelectronics

“The transmission range of the ZSB101A module makes it suitable for a wide variety of applications where it is important to achieve wireless connectivity over an extended distance,” says Sendong Huang, Technical Director at ZHIYUAN Microelectronics. “This includes IoT applications including connected home, smart city infrastructure, industrial mesh networks, industrial smart lighting, and transport and logistics.

“Designing with the ZSB101A module also eliminates the need for users to develop complex RF hardware and Bluetooth LE software, which reduces time to market,” continues Huang. “For customized software functionality, users can take advantage of our ‘AMetal SDK’ [Software Development Kit] to meet any specialized needs.”

Direction finding capabilities

In addition to Bluetooth Long Range, the nRF52820’s functionality—including support for Angle-of-Arrival (AoA) and Angle-of-Departure (AoD) technology—enables OEMs selecting the ZSB101A module to develop Direction Finding applications. The fully functioned module also offers the nRF52820 SoC’s 18 GPIOs and a range of analog and digital interfaces such an analog comparator, SPI, UART, TWI, and QDEC. Furthermore, it is qualified over the full industrial –40º to 85º C operating temperature range.

“We selected the nRF52820 SoC WLCSP because it allowed us to minimize the footprint of our module without compromising on performance,” says Huang. “Also, because Nordic Semiconductor is a respected market leader in Bluetooth LE, working with them was the obvious choice.”